Friday, November 4, 2011

The Post-Halloween Post

There's no tradition of Halloween in Australia. It is still very much regarded as an American holiday, and only superficially celebrated. There are occasional costume parties, a bit of random trick or treating, and increasingly, Halloween candy and other paraphernalia are available on the supermarket shelves, but in general, Australia has not really embraced the night when the veil between the worlds is at its thinest. Me? Well, that's a whole other story. I love Halloween.

The Skeleton Dance

For me, Halloween is like The Addams Family television show, or The Skeleton Dance. It's all about the lighter side of the dark side. A time to put the cute into creepy, and the kooky into spooky.

The Addams Family

Of course, without any true frame of reference, anything I know about Halloween, I've learned  from watching American movies and television. Since starting this blog however, and becoming acquainted with many hardcore Halloween enthusiasts, I now realize that my knowledge of Halloween customs barely scratches the surface. Until recently, I had never heard the expression "yard haunt". Nor was I aware that the entire month of October was filled with seasonal festivities like corn mazes, bonfires, hayrides, and caramel apples, not to mention a plethora of pumpkin flavoured products. You see, I live on the other side of the globe, where it is currently Spring, not Autumn, so I have to content myself with my own cobbled together version of Halloween.

My Jack-o'-Lantern

I carved my first pumpkin several years ago. It was a Queensland Blue variety. For those not familiar with the Queensland Blue pumpkin, the experience of carving it was akin to sawing through hard wood. It took me five hours to carve a basic Jack-o'-Lantern face. Fortunately, the lovely orange, and much more pliable, American pumpkins are now available here, although they are outrageously expensive. This year's pumpkin cost a whopping $18.50! And that was after waiting until the last minute, and purchasing one that was reduced to half-price.

Although I admire the artistry of the intricate designs that many people carve into their pumpkins, as you can see, when it comes to carving my own pumpkin, I favour the simple Jack-o'-Lantern face.

Hocus Pocus

Beyond a Jack-o'-Lantern, and a few decorations, my Halloween ritual basically consists of a nice dinner, followed by some kind of spooky, but lighthearted or kooky movie. Terror is fine on every other day of the year, but Halloween is about fun. Tim Burton's movies often fit the bill. Other Halloween favourites include, The Frighteners, Monster House, Coraline, and Ghostbusters. This year we opted for Hocus Pocus.

My Skull Cake

I always make some sort of treat to enjoy while we watch our movie, so this year I thought I'd try and make a skull cake. It was a pretty freestyle creation and nothing fancy, but I think it turned out kind of cute. I just carved a skull shape out of a round cake, and then made a stencil out of baking paper for the face. The cake was just a vanilla butter cake, with a vanilla butter cream icing, and the eyes, nose and mouth were made from cocoa and sugar.

So, that was my Halloween. I'd love to hear how you celebrated your Halloween?


  1. It'll be up to you to bring the joys of Halloween to Australia!

  2. That is the cleanest cut and most classic jack-o I have seen this season. Love yer skull cake too. I will trade you a scoop of Cat Litter cake for a slice of skull!

  3. For someone not well versed in the deeper traditions of Hallow'en, I'd say you do a smashing job of celebrating and enjoying the spirit of the holiday.
    Someday maybe Australia will embrace the holiday as their own as well.
    BTW, I just picked up the The Graveyard Book. I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yes! Spread the joys of Halloween! I did all of the above with the exception of the skull cake (which is all kinds of awesome)!

  5. I suspect my neighbors would have to cave in and follow my lead at Halloween. I wouldn't let anyone go untouched. Sounds like you are really doing it up! Good for you! Halloween is in the heart as much as in the candy (though candy is always appreciated). :-)

  6. I think you did a fine job, better than some Americans. I love when people can get into the seasons!

  7. I love that cake! I'm so happy to have helped inspire it any way. :) You did a seriously good job with that ~ It's very Day of the Dead. I didn't even know you baked decorative cakes! Great job on the jack-o-lantern too. I'm with Ked ~ That was amazingly clean cut. It's hard to believe that you're new to Halloween traditions with how well you celebrated the holiday.

    Isn't the internet great for learning about different countries, cultures, and traditions? I guess you had a crash course in American Halloween this year. :) I'm sure your family and friends enjoyed learning along with you!

  8. Maybe you can start a tradition in Australia of baking amazing Halloween cakes 'cause that kick-ass cake needs to be celebrated!

  9. Haha, I am digging the cat picture and your cake.

  10. Great post-Halloween Post! Loved this.

  11. Awesome!! Glad you are keeping the spirit burning bright in Australia! So cool that you still celebrate even though it isn't a big holiday in AUS.

    I love your photos and how you celebrate! :)

  12. Hi Jessica,

    I'm certainly trying my darnedest!!

    Hi wicKED,

    Well, coming from you, I consider that high praise indeed! I thought my pumpkin might be a little too plain, particularly considering the many artistic triumphs I have seen, but I do like a classic face!

    Haha! Cat Litter cake! Did I miss that pic on your blog? I'll have to go and check again. Sounds scrumptious!!

    Hi Creepy Glowbugg,

    Thank you so much! I do what I can to make it a fun experience for my little family. I think I'd like to visit the US, someday, during the Halloween season. I've always loved the idea of Halloween since I was a child, but all my blog buddies have really opened up my eyes to the whole experience. It all sounds rather magical!

    I'm so glad you love 'The Graveyard Book"!! I think it's brilliant!!

    Hi Annie,

    Oh yes, it's my mission to advance the Halloween cause in any way that I possibly can Down Under!! Thank you for the compliment on the skull cake. Luckily I took a photo because my son helped polish it off pretty quickly!

    Hi Autumn

    Haha! Yeah, I need you here to help promote Halloween! I suspect you'd have everybody whipped into shape in no time!!

    Hi Random Girl,

    Aww... thank you for that. There are plenty of things I didn't get around to doing though. I think I'd better get started now, so I'm all ready for next year!!

    Hi Justine,

    Thank you so much!! I'm so flattered that you would think I bake "decorative cakes" from my little skull offering, but in reality I don't bake much at all. I'm not even much of a cake-eater. I'm usually perfectly happy if you toss a chocolate my way, or maybe some ice cream. I get inspired on Halloween to try something a little more novel though. I probably broke all the rules of cake-making. I just approached it like an art project. I was going to just make a pumpkin faced cake with orange icing, but your Day of the Dead post put skulls into my mind. I'm glad I tried it because I thought he turned out to be a cute little guy. The problem with cakes though, is they don't last long, so I'm glad I took pictures to remember him by!

    Actually, a friend who lives in Sydney held a Halloween party and made a display of apothecary bottles. I sent her the link to your post so she could see your gorgeous claw bottle.

    Hi Scared,

    Thank you so much! He was kind of a spur of the moment experiment, but I was happy with the way he turned out.

    Hi Adsila,

    Yeah, the cats are cool aren't they?! Haha. Thank you for the compliment on the cake.

  13. Hi Spooky Vegan,

    Thank you!! I'm so used to being a bit of a Halloween lone wolf that I'm feeling quite spoilt by everyone's kind comments!!

  14. That's hard to believe, because you did such a great job with this cake! Did I ever show you the skull cake I made? It's in more of a Jack Skellington style. Mine was just in the round form of the pan it was baked in. Sculpting cakes can be a challenge! I bet you'll be baking more fancy cakes, now that this one worked out. :)

    Thanks for passing my blog on to your friend! Were the bottles she found much different from mine?

  15. No, I haven't seen a picture of your skull cake. Is it on your blog? I'd love to see it! Jack Skellington style sounds very cute!!

    Haha! Yes, I actually made another cake the next day because James was begging me to, but it was just a regular one, not skull shaped.

    My friend sent me a photo from her phone. I'll email it to you.

  16. Gosh, Hocus Pocus is my favorite movie. It scared me shitless as a child!

    I followed you, btw :)

  17. Hi Gabriel,

    Yes, I was actually thinking when I watched 'Hocus Pocus' this time, that even though it's full of plenty of lighthearted fun, children would probably find some scenes quite frightening. I mean, the witches are killing kids after all!

    Thank you for following. I'll go and check out your blog, too!

  18. Between Hocus Pocus and Little Monsters, I was doing a lot of shitting. :)

    I can't begin to tell you how many times I would look under my bed before going to sleep!

  19. I had to google 'Little Monsters'. Hmm... Fred Savage... nope, I've never heard of that movie until now. I'll have to read up on it.

  20. Hey come on over to the giveaway results (I didn't know you were in Australia!)

  21. Hi TriGirl,

    Goodness me! What a surprise! I hope your teeth didn't just fall out when you learnt I was in Australia!! Gulp.

  22. Such a cute post! I hope you had a wonderful Halloween! :)

  23. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks! I did have a wonderful Halloween, and I hope you did, too!!

  24. Thank You for fallowing! :>
    I very like Your blog!!!! It's fantastic! :D

  25. Aw everything that I love in Halloween is here! I miss very much this Holiday, as I grew up near Montreal and now live in Brussels...But make my jack o lantern each year at least!

  26. I like how you sum up Halloween as "the lighter side of the dark side." I've always thought of it that way too.

    I also love that you mentioned The Skeleton Dance. I saw it once when I was a kid and spent years trying to track down a copy. Now, of course, you can find basically anything on YouTube.

    Keep that Jack-O-Lantern fire burning down under.

  27. I am so glad I stumbled upon this wicked blog. I am an instant follower. BTW, Nice halloween post.I can't wait for next halloween!

  28. I remember seeing Hocus Pocus at the drive-in with My Boyfriend's Back when I was a teenager. I loved the town it took place in.
    Your cake looks great, I bet it was delicious.

  29. Hi Judka,

    My pleasure! Welcome to my blog and thank you for your kind comments!

    Hi mademoiselle G

    Thank you! I tried to sum up the spirit of Halloween as I feel it. We obviously love the same things about Halloween! We both just have to keep carving those Jack-o'-Lanterns each year!!

    Hi Marvin the Macabre,

    Thanks! There are a lot of creepy movies and TV shows that I love, but to me, there's a certain whimsical quality to Halloween that demands a more fun approach.

    Yes, the internet and YouTube are fantastic for little gems like 'The Skeleton Dance'. That's the only way that I'm able to see it.

    I will definitely keep the "Jack-O-Lantern fire burning down under".

    Hi Mary!

    Very happy to have you here! I just followed your blog, too! I love cats so how I could I possibly resist a blog called "Meowwzie"!!

    Thank you for the nice comment about my Halloween post. I think a lot of us are already looking forward to Halloween next year... it's an addiction! Haha.

    Hi Will,

    Oh, I love the town too! Part of the film was actually filmed in Salem, and Marblehead, Massachusetts, apparently. On this recent watching I kept thinking how much I'd love to live in a town that looked like that!! I love the sets on 'Hocus Pocus', as well - particularly the town cemetery and the Sanderson sisters' house. And how could I resist a movie with a black cat as one of the heroes!!

  30. Oh, and thank you for the compliment on the cake, Will! It was pretty yummy. My son helped polish it off in record time and then asked me if I could make another one! Haha.

  31. I saw this post go up on Twitter and I've been meaning to come back to it because it's filled with so many of my favorite things! And chief amongst them is a toss up between skull cake and HOCUS POCUS.

    You prepared a grand celebration and I hope it was well-spent gathering ghoultide wishes about you. It's a long wait until next year, but I'm sure you'll find ways to spook up every day until then. Cheers!

  32. Hi King Unicorn,

    Thank you! It was a low-key Halloween celebration, but plenty of fun! It's definitely my mission to try and put a little Halloween spookiness into life every day of the year!!


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